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You can train your emotions.
Contrary to prevailing opinions in today’s culture, you don’t have to be a victim of your emotions. You don’t have to behave a particular way simply because you feel a particular way.
Sometimes your emotions are wrong.
In actuality, your feelings are like a dispenser of permission slips if you use them as your barometer of what is right and wrong.
We all must constantly make this choice: either you will allow your feelings to redefine truth or you will allow truth to judge and renegotiate your feelings.
As C.S. Lewis wrote:
Without the aid of trained emotions, the intellect, the head is powerless against the animal organism, the belly, the head rules the belly through the chest. And it may even be said it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal.
For fiction lovers, a great example of this principle is the character Eustace in C.S. Lewis’ “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”. Eustace is filled with “head knowledge” regarding several topics, but with no filter, no experience, no practical knowledge or abilities nor any relational skills whatsoever. Eustace has no chest.
Contrarily, there is a character with a huge chest. He does what is right even though it may be difficult. He defends women’s honor even in the face of death. He operates out of extraordinary conviction for truth even though he is one of the smallest creatures in all of Narnia. He is Reepicheep the Mouse.
We cultivate our chest by knowing what is true and what is good. This is different from merely knowing facts. Likewise, it’s not only important to know what is wrong. It’s equally important to know what is true, good and beautiful.
Secondly, we need to practice what is true and good. You see, the chest is a muscle and it needs exercise in order to mature and grow in strength.
Therefore, if you want to be a virtuous person, you need to do virtuous things. A problem we often run into is that we talk a lot about virtue and true, but we don’t do anything to prove our convictions.
Lastly – and perhaps most importantly – you can always repent.
God offers the opportunity for repentance at any point in the road.
But you need to do more than merely talk about repentance. You need to actually form the habit of contrition, change your attitude and change your behaviors.